Setting Meaningful Goals: 3 Components of a Commitment

Goals will be more meaningful and achievable if you express them in the form of a commitment statement that you can share with others. Stephen Denning tells us:

“Not having a commitment that is clearly communicated is one of the top mistakes made by leaders.”

Committing to work on a goal from simply a performance perspective is a burden. Leaders need to include their values to be emotionally engaged in order to ignite their full range of talent. Marcus Buckingham tells us that “Focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence.” 

Make your goal a 3-part commitment to get better results:

Commit to Meaningful Goals

1- Strength. What do you already do well?
Take advantage of what comes naturally to you and has a proven track record. Although research has shown that goals should build on one’s strengths, (not one’s weaknesses), fewer than 10% of executives have a plan for improving their strengths.

2- Value. What is important to you?
Values connect us to others around a common purpose. Crafting a commitment statement around what appeals to you is not only highly motivating but inspiring to others.

3- Strategic Outcome (goal). What will your goal look like?
Goals must be a person’s own, not goals imposed by someone else. But they do need to be aligned with organizational goals and feasible within your work environment.

Questions to Deepen Your Thinking

  • How is ‘achieving your commitments’ working for you?
  • Can you think of a different way to describe what you are committed to?
  • What would happen if your commitment had a strength and a personal value built in, instead of just a performance outcome?


Craig, N. & Snook, S. (2014, May). From purpose to impact: Figure out your passion and put it to work. Harvard Business Review, 105-111.
Denning, S. (2007). The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Marcus Buckingham,
Zenger, J., Folkman, J. & Edinger, S. (2011, October). Making Yourself Indespensible. Harvard Business Review , 85-92.

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4 responses to “Setting Meaningful Goals: 3 Components of a Commitment

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